A Perfect Pick!

Posted September 23, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Laughter, Life

Tags: ,

On Tuesday, my husband and I picked a peck of apple-icious apples!

Pick a Peck

Each picked apple conjured up tasty treats – apple sauce, apple crunch, apple pie, apple cake, apple donuts, apple cider, apple butter…

It was a beautiful day at Sunnycrest Apple Farm and Farmer’s Market.

Apples, and Mums, and Pumpkins, – Oh, my!

There was no need to mask up. We had wide-open spaces to roam up and down rows of apple trees.

Walkin’ Down the Apple Highway

There were no crowds, but the branches were jam-packed with apples.

Apples Galore

After picking our pick of apples, we splurged and bought ourselves a special treat.

Yum!

It was a great day to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Apple anyone?

Remember. An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Pick one of these apple books.

How to Grow an Apple written by Beth Charles and illustrated by Katie Rewse, Albert Whitman & Company, 2020

Let’s Go Apple Picking written by Lori Haskins Houran and illustrated by Nila Aye, Golden Books, 2020.

Applesauce Day written by Lisa J. Amstutz and illustrated by Talitha Shipman, Albert Whitman & Company, 2017

Apple Picking Day! written by Candice Ransom and illustrated by Erika Meza, Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016

A Wish

Posted September 16, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

 ~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

September 11th is my birthday. On that day, twenty years ago, I was teaching in an elementary school near Boston. As a gift to me, I asked my husband to postpone his business trip so we could celebrate together. He did. (He was not booked on United Airlines Flight 175.)  By the end of that September 11th day, there was nothing to celebrate.

I was in class when the news of the terrorist attacks passed quietly through the halls as school administrators whispered to teachers what had happened. There were parents in our school community who flew out of Boston to various places to do business. It was imperative that students need not know what was going on before their parents could explain the situation to their children on their own terms.

It was a sad day – a scary day. “It was the worst of times. It was the season of darkness.”

The downside of the horrible terrorist attacks was the many people who perished and the first responders who have health complications today from desperately trying to save lives. The upside is that suddenly Americans, no matter what religious, ethnic, or diverse background, came together. We flew the American flag – a symbol of liberty, justice, and freedom, and we embraced each other to become a strong, resilient America.

It’s now twenty years later. Our nation is more dived than I’ve ever seen.

This year, my September 11th birthday wish is that we end our political divide. Stop the craziness on both sides. Listen and respect other’s opinions. Work to unite rather than divide. I wish this to be our “season of light” and “spring of hope.”

God Bless America

A Nation’s Strength

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
~Emerson

I’m Back!

Posted September 9, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Family Celebrations, Laughter, Life

Tags: , , , , ,

It has been a busy six weeks. We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and family gatherings. Here are some high points.

Anniversary Flowers
Birthday Cake
Another Birthday Cake
And Another Birthday Cake
Three-Legged Birthday Games
Birthday Wishes
T-Ball Fun
Roasting Marshmallows
Cornhole!

We have lots of memories of days spent with family and friends. Now it’s time to get back to business, and…

.First Day of School

that includes the little ones, too.

Until next Thursday, enjoy each and every day!

Summer Blog Break

Posted August 5, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Uncategorized

It’s that time of year!

I interrupt this blog for breaking news. “Humor Me” is taking a summer blog break to relax and celebrate August birthdays and anniversaries. Look for the next post on September 9th when this blog returns to inform and entertain the masses!

Summer Blog Break

Keep on reading!

Family Matters

Posted July 29, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Life, Special Days

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A baptism last week. A wedding this week.

Last Friday, we headed to the Midwest. We haven’t traveled on an airplane in over two years because of COVID-19, but when a family wedding celebration is on the horizon, we go! Our destination was not an easy place to get to. We drove our car to the park ‘n ride to catch a bus that took us to the airport. We boarded a plane for a two-and-a-half-hour flight. We then boarded a regional plane for another hour’s flight. Arriving at the small airport, we picked up our rental car and drove another hour and a half to our destination. In all, it took us thirteen hours. We missed the rehearsal dinner, but the Midwest heat and humidity were there to greet us!

Saturday – Wedding Day

The Bride – Our Niece

Parents of the Bride – A Nervous Dad

The Bride and Groom

Father/Daughter Dance

We didn’t get a family photo of my brother and two sisters, but we did play cornhole at the reception. What else do you do in corn country? (Notice the determination on my face.) I lost to a five-year-old!

Me!

Sunday morning, we did a reversal of our Friday travel schedule. I was immediately reminded why flying is not my favorite pastime. Besides delays, cancellations, and turbulence, other problems creep up. On our first flight, all I wanted was a cold glass of ice water. Problem One:  No ice available. Problem Two:  They ran out of water before they got to us! Really?? The second flight had a mechanical glitch that had to be fixed. And so, we waited until it was a go. Twelve and a half hours later, we finally reached home. Even though it was a short visit and there were a few minor problems with our flights, it was wonderful to be able to get together with our family and enjoy a day of celebration! Family matters!

Love Is…

Posted July 22, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , , , , , ,

This past weekend our youngest grandchild was baptized. He wore a 140-year-old family baptismal gown. I’m sure our Irish relatives were looking down from heaven with happiness and pride.

Including our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, there were thirteen people under one roof for the weekend. Six of those were children – ages five and younger. On Sunday, more people arrived for the baptismal celebration. It was a happy day with a bit of chaos sprinkled in. During all of the goings-on, these two found a quiet space to share a book.

Love is faith, family, and friends!

Winner to the Giveaway and Shark Week!

Posted July 15, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Nonfiction Picture Books, Picture Books

Tags: , ,

The winner of Janie Reinart’s beautiful book, When Water Makes Mud:  A Story of Refugee Children is…

Janet Celek!

Congratulations, Janet!

It’s Shark Week!

Chomp! Sink your teeth into these books!

Sharks for Kids by David McGuire, Rockridge Press, 2020

So Cool! Sharks by Crispin Boyer, National Geographic Kids, 2019

The Ultimate Book of Sharks by Brian Skerry, National Geographic for Kids, 2018

Sharks: Teeth to Tail written by Jaye Garnett and illustrated by Beatrice Tinarelli, Cottage Door Press, 2021

Shark Lady written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns, Sourcebooks Explore, 2017

An Interview with Author Janie Reinart and a Giveaway!

Posted July 8, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Author Interview

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Janie Reinart

Meet Janie Reinart. Whether she’s writing, teaching, puppeteering, performing interactive musical stories, clowning around, or presiding as a poet-in-residence at an elementary school, Janie’s enthusiasm is infectious. Today I have the honor of interviewing this multi-talented author as she talks about her newest book When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children. Readers can see my book review here.

Welcome, Janie Reinart, and congratulations on your beautiful book. Tell us more about the background of the story and why you wrote it.

Cathy, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. It is my pleasure to celebrate the South Sudanese children in the story.

My inspiration and resource for WHEN WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN is the National Geographic photographer, Nora Lorek, who took four trips to the Bidibidi Settlement and documented her travels in photos. Nora has graciously answered my questions for the story.

I was inspired by the refugee children at the Bidibidi Settlement; children who invented toys from found objects using their imagination and critical thinking skills. One of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein is “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” These children without toys created something from nothing. These children have hope. Their hope becomes our hope.

Your story has a lovely lyrical feel. Can you discuss some of the writing techniques you used to create such a heartfelt story? Did you use mentor texts?

When I started working on the manuscript, I knew I wanted a playful structure to match the heart of my story—children creating, playing, cherished sibling relationships, kindness, and caring. I had fun figuring out the smallest to the largest ways to show mirth—from a grin to a laugh.

Poetry does the heavy lifting of capturing emotions. I enjoyed using animals the children see every day as similes. The repetition in the story helps the read-aloud to be interactive. A picture book that stuck with me and became my mentor text was Miranda Paul’s, Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle illustrated by Janson Chin.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Social and emotional learning through stories helps us feel empathy, make caring decisions, and find out we are more alike than different. I would like to see today’s tech-savvy children disconnect from screens and spend more time using their imaginations and creating. I’m hoping When Water Makes Mud will also inspire people to donate to UNICEF. Publisher’s profits from When Water Makes Mud are being donated to UNICEF.

It’s very impressive of the publisher to make those donations.

Marketing a book can be challenging. What are some of the things you’ve done to promote your book?

It takes a village to market a book. I would like to thank my debut groups @thekidlitcrew and @readingfunin21, and my critique partners Charlotte Dixon, Pamela Courtney, Kathy Halsey, Melissa Rutigliano, Marietta Apollpnio, and Monique Morales Wakefield.

The wonderful thing about the kid lit community is their generosity in sharing news about books on social media and interviews on blogs. I’ve found all you have to do is ask. Thank you again, Cathy, for this interview.

It’s my pleasure, Janie.

Do you do school or virtual visits? Describe what one of your visits would be like.

In previous years, I did live school visits. This past year, I had the opportunity to take the fabulous Kate Messner’s classes on virtual visits. What fun to be able to Zoom all over the place and interact with kids. One of my virtual visits includes jokes, a sing-along with hand motions, creating a group poem, choral reading, interactive reading of the picture book story, five ways to adapt a fairytale, discussion on why we write, and Q & A. I also provide free downloads for activities to go with the story.

Your program sounds amazing. Can you share something not many people know about you?

I obviously do like to play! I coordinated and performed in a gentle clown ministry when we lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. We visited St. Elizabeth’s Hospital adding silliness and play to a child patient’s routine, as well as being comic relief for parents, nurses, and doctors. My troupe was all mimes—no talking when you were in full costume. Laughter is the best medicine!

Janie and her daughters clowning around

What’s next for you, Janie?

I am researching a story that has to do with my childhood. I have several stories out on submission and have others waiting to be revised again. I love the writer’s life and making the writer/reader connection—heart to heart.

Thank you, Janie. I’m so pleased to have you as a friend and as a guest on my blog!

Learn more about Janie Reinart below.

www.janiereinart.com

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

Book Trailer

The Giveaway!

Janie has generously agreed to give away a copy of When Water Makes Mud.

For a chance to win, please leave a comment below. For extra chances to win, like this post and post this giveaway on social media. Make sure you state where you posted it in your comment. Please note:  You must be a resident of the U.S. and at least 18 years of age to enter. The giveaway ends on Wednesday, 7/14/21 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be randomly picked and announced on my 7/15/21 blog post. Good luck to all!

An Extra:

A reading of When Water Makes Mud on #StoryTimeWithMrLimata

Thursday, July 8: WHEN WATER MAKES MUD by JANIE REINART, illustrated by MORGAN TAYLOR. Published by BLUE WHALE PRESS

Story Time is 11:00 am PT on Facebook and YouTube Live! Find where to get the book in Mr. Limata’s bio or at https://bit.ly/MrLimata-Find-The-Books

When Life Gets in the Way…

Posted July 1, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Life

Tags: ,

Is the week over yet?

Every time I think I have a free moment, something else comes up. My creativity is on hold as I try to get my life back together.

I’ll be back next week – a calmer, gentler person!

PB Review: When Water Makes Mud

Posted June 24, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review, Picture Books

Tags: , , , , ,

When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children written by Janie Reinart and illustrated by Morgan Taylor, Blue Whale Press, 2021

This is a beautiful book about two young girls who are in a refugee camp They arrived there with nothing but their dreams. The older sister sees the sadness in her little sister. So, she picks up a stick to make something from nothing. She uses it to draw pictures from home. The little sister smiles, but happiness fades quickly. The older sister continues to find things to cheer up her sister – pebbles to make a puzzle, a bag to make a balloon… Each time, the little sister is happy, but then sadness takes its place. Until…water makes mud. The older sister sculpts a doll out of the mud. The mud baby becomes a precious toy for the little sister. As the days pass the two add more mud toys and dream. Janie Reinart’s lyrical text and Morgan Taylor’s captivating illustrations will evoke emotions that will melt your heart.

The publisher’s profits from the sale of this book are being donated to UNICEF. I highly recommend adding this book to your home library.


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